Spectrum Special: Report from JavaOne '98

30 March 1998 for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com --------------------------------------------------

JavaOne '98

by Howard Dyckoff Focus Last week's JavaOne conference in San Francisco highlighted the geometric growth of Java use as shown in Java-controlled devices, and also in the huge attendance at this third annual event. Many of the promised extensions and APIs have been spec'ed or delivered and many more robust, commercial-quality tools are now available. The main thrust of this conference was that Java has matured and is now reaching critical mass. One critical area of improvement is speed. Sun touted its "Hot Spot" Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for a 9X speed improvement over the previous JVM, which uses a non-optimizing Just-in-Time compiler. The HotSpot VM uses an "adaptive optimization" technique, which analyzes running applications and converts slow processes to native platform code. Sun also announced speed improvements to the classic JVM. Additionally, there will be a Java Activator that allows use of Sun's Java Runtime Environment (JRE) instead of Java environments coming with Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Activator ensures a standard execution environment for Java programs on Windows machines. Sun and its partners were somewhat more somber than at previous conferences because of problems within the Java consortium, including a split on the embedded Java spec with HP. However, many other partners showed prototypes and designs for Java phones, terminals, security devices, appliance Web servers, and even automobile controls. HP was present with several pure Java products and was supporting the Java effort in the enterprise, particularly on HP NT and Unix servers. Sun and HP were clearly minimizing their differences, but HP also has a near lock on business printers and may be trying to protect its market share. Sun was able to pull out an ace with the formation of the Java Consumer Business Alliance Program. a program aiming to customize EmbeddedJava or PersonalJava software and move Java technology into a wide range of consumer devices. Nine companies are already in the program, including Applix, Geoworks, Lucent Technologies, Microtec, Microware, NSI, ObjectSpace, PSW, and Spyglass. Sun also extended the PersonalJava specification to include JavaPhone, JavaTV, and JavaAuto APIs. Siemens is working with the JavaAuto API to develop a "Java Car" with a programmable dashboard and integrated communications, entertainment, and GPS subsystems using embedded Java controllers (this was the subject of a presentation at the conference Industry Track). Several Technical Track sessions were devoted to "Swing," a high-level interface for the Java 2D and User Interface APIs, packaged as a toolkit. Swing will support Motif, Windows, Mac and Metal (Java-specific) menu and UI "look-and-feel" behaviors, which are part of the enhanced Java Foundation Classes (JFC). Included Drag-and-drop capabilities can interact with the underlying native GUI (read Windows). JFC enhancements also include support for printing, a sore spot with Java developers until now. The leading technology development at JavaOne was the release of the Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) specification and lineup of database and tools vendors supporting it. This will enable the rapid development of commercial quality client-server applications with new versions of products already in use in major businesses. EJBs create containers of Java components that work together with network protocols and database commands. The EJB container is an abstraction for an object with the behaviors of the underlying components with many of the properties being settable at the object level via developer-friendly wizards. Those components can be individual JavaBeans or some native method with a Java wrapper class calling it. Another set of innovations showcased at JavaOne were the distributed computing APIs for Java. Besides an enhancements for the Remote Method Invocation (RMI) API, JavaSoft has developed JavaSpaces for sharing objects and work remotely, a light-weight Transactions model, and a Distributed Events interface for object-to-object event notification. These can be used together or individually to: · react to changes in state · coordinate remote work over unrelated computing platforms · support object persistence · communicate without using polling, which is very resource-intensive · quickly build applications like workflow, online retail stores and stock trading (demo'd) All this new technology works best with the 100% Java environments. The Microsoft Win32-ized Java environment excludes Java RMI, which is used in both EJB and the distributed computing APIs. Microsoft does not want to support RMI, although an unsupported set of RMI classes can be added to its Visual J++. However, since JavaSoft has extended the RMI classes in the current Java Development Kit (version 1.1.6) and is not allowing access to Microsoft in their ongoing legal dispute, none of these new specifications can be supported in J++. Microsoft may develop bridging technologies with the help of partners like Sybase or Hewlett-Packard but competing IDE/builder tools will have a distinct advantage in building robust, true-enterprise-level applications. Future Releases JavaSoft has been moving JDK 1.1.x maintenance releases very quickly -- about every 12-18 weeks. Focus is on improved reliability and stability now, while performance has been addressed over the past year. There will be ~2 more JDK releases in 1998. JDK 1.2 maintenance releases will be quarterly until JDK 2.x in late 1998. This will take some pressure off JavaSoft partners and tools providers. Send any feedback to mailto:jdk-comments@java.sun.com Many Attendees Between 12,000 and 14,000 developers attended this third JavaOne conference (Sun speakers used both figures throughout the conference, the difference being made up of press, exhibitors, Sun staffers and speakers at conference sessions and Birds-of-a-Feather sessions, all of whom were non-paying attendees). While most were from the Western states, many attended from Eastern states, Canada, and Europe and Japan. By any measure, there were almost too many people. Many stood in the back of the small rooms where Birds-of-a-Feather sessions were presented. Some sessions, like those on Java Data Base Connectivity, had attendees redirected to overflow rooms. Some popular sessions were repeated on Friday. Sun's survey of users asked about their preference for a single conference or several worldwide conferences. Since attendance at JavaOne has doubled every year, this is a very real issue. The cachet of a single major event for the Java Community is very important, so Sun and JavaSoft may opt for a JavaOne road show with the highlights of the primary JavaOne conference. Flashy Stuff Each attendees received a stainless steel Java Ring (like the one Scott McNealy used at Internet Expo) which contained a working 8-bit processor running a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). The ring's signet contained Dallas Semiconductor's 83C950 (800,000 tranistors) which contains 32 KB of ROM, 6 KB of Non-Volatile SRAM (128 KB in the next version), a real-time clock and 1024-bit math accelerator for encryption key calculations. A 10-year lithium battery also is included. When conference attendees logged in with their rings inserted in the special "blue-dot" serial links, the rings were updated with the attendee's business card info, which could be then stored permanently. The rings were then used in a distributed computing application--the calculation of a fractal pattern--where each ring calculated a single pixel and stored it in a central database. In this manner, 12000 small Java computers connected intermittently to jointly compute the complex image. In this case, the network was literally the computer. The rings were a great keepsake and Dallas Semi had a brisk business selling extra rings and readers. The developer's kit is available for free download from http://www.ibutton.com. (see below for more info in the products section). With the Java Rings providing user authentication, attendees could plug in to work stations and order the drinkable Java of their choice at a fully automated coffee manufacturing plant and service bar. The coffee preference was also stored in the ring so subsequent orders only required clicking on "OK." The plant used manufacturing source code that was rewritten in Java by the equipment provider. Ground coffee levels were monitored and raw beans were sent to grinders to keep level current with demand. A human was used to deliver the finished coffee. On the exhibit area floor a semi-static model of the Robot from the film "Lost in Space" was used as a communications kiosk (kinda cool, but the clicking relays and rotating antennae of MGM's Robby the Robot were much cooler in its day). The robot model also appeared in a keynote address, underlining concerns about incompatible Java implementations with its chorus of "Danger! Danger! Danger!" Real Tools Borland was giving out CDs with full copies of Jbuilder 1.0 (since 2.0 is coming out in days). SuperCede also gave out copies of their IDE (version 2.0), as they have at other shows. These are basic versions, suitable for applet creation and small applications, but not as feature-rich as the database or enterprise versions of either product. Borland did raffle off several future copies of the 2.0 version of Jbuilder each day to draw attention to the upcoming product. Sybase generated some excitement by handing out 150 copies each day of its new PowerJ development environment, derived from the popular PowerBuilder series of tools. This is only available in the full enterprise version and has a retail price of $2000. It includes a version of the Sybase SQL anywhere database (which has been included with the Enterprise version of Symantec's Visual Cafe). Also included were the Jaguar CTS transaction server and Jconnect, a JDBC connector for leading databases. Symantec was showing its 2.5 version of Visual Café, which, like Jbuilder, will support the new APIs and implement wizards for creating Enterprise Java Beans. The cost of the enterprise version will be $800, up from $500, but owners of the prior version will be given substantial discounts. Microsoft had a small counter in the expo area where copies of the current Java Journal were handed out. It contained a Java Developer CD with beta copies of J++ 6.0. (The high number is part of a marketing strategy to have the same revs for all tools in its InterDev and Visual Studio products). Other than this, Microsoft kept a very low profile, trying to avoid a recurrence of the recent criticism it received at the hands of Java developers for its efforts to make Java an extension of Windows and force programmers to write to two incompatible Java standards. Exhibitors Netscape participated throughout the conference as a principal partner of Sun and JavaSoft. It announced support for Enterprise Java Beans in its forthcoming Application Server release and showed a prototype. Current versions of Application Server are based on the Kiva Server, which Netscape bought last year. Netscape will also host the "Center for Java Software" in the Netscape Software Depot on its Web site (co-sponsored by Sun, IBM, HP, and Novell). Persistance was showing PowerTier for EJB, a Java application server with object caching and network mapping to speed transaction responses by factors greater than 10, since many objects and business data will be in memory. Pooling of database connections are also supported to use fewer resources on back-end servers. This is an enhancement of their PowerTier for C++ product and will be delivered in April.. Netdynamics showcased its development work with PeopleSoft, the Human Resources add-in for major Databases. Netdyamics tools build an HR application for Netscape. Netdynamics announced support for EJB and also will host a series of telephone-based seminars for developers. PeopleSoft separately showed its Web Client that will interface directly with its popular database application, using the Tuxedo transaction manager. This will compete with the NetDynamics tools. Hot Products Halcyon's Instant Basic provides a Visual Basic-like environment for migrating VB code to Java. VB applications can be converted into JavaBeans, with the option to wrap DLLs (Windows libraries) via the Java Native Method Interface (JNMI). Ncode Research provides its Ncode suite of filters and translators that provide Java viewers for all MS-Office file formats. These include Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and graphical .BMP, WMF, PNG and Escher Drawing Objects (for PowerPoint slides). These can be rendered and viewed on HTML 3.x web pages. Open Horizon, a consulting company in SF, was showing Ambrosia, a Java messaging and security product that provides deployment of distributed applications over extranets and intranets. Commands and data can be encrypted and encapsulated in the Ambrosia messaging format and tunneled through a firewall using HTTP port 80. Ambrosia also provides a secure administration console that controls its publish-and-subscribe style distribution model dynamically. The clients of the messages may be applications or other messaging services (email, paging, MQ, etc.). Ambrosia provides CORBA-IDL and C interfaces for programmers to extend the basic functions. Ambrosia can interface with Java clients or legacy systems. Tenga is a Java application server supporting all the Java APIs, including Java Messaging and Enterprise Java Beans. It was mentioned in a keynote session and in several presentations. Using Tenga, a developer can write both client and server code using the servlets implemented in Tenga as a middle-tier application servers. This is a fast way to bring up Java-based front- and back-end services in a large-scale, networked environment. Jbuilder 2.0 provides new JFC and "Swing" support, and will support switching between different versions of the JDK. Upgrades are free if the earlier version was purchased in the last 90 days. Borland seems to be pulling ahead of its competitors by coming out with full support for the new Java technologies early, and because Oracle's new AppBuilder (also shown in beta at JavaOne ) is built on source code for the Jbuilder IDE. iButtons from Dallas Semi uses the Java Card 2.0 spec and a full Java Virtual Machine running in a sealed chamber with 1024-bit math processor for doing crypto calculations. This will ease the authentication requirements for eCommerce and allow individuals to carry secure, encrypted financial information. iButtons were attached to the Java Rings given to conference attendees and have been used in Latin America and Turkey for transit fares and in the US by the Post Office to audit pickups from mailboxes. Each button has a unique 64-bit number that can be used as an address in a network scheme. --------------------------------------------------


About Spectrum Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review. Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703. If you contact companies or organizations mentioned here, please tell them you saw the news in Spectrum. Thanks. -------------------------------------------------- Please send address changes (with old and new addresses), subscribe and unsubscribe requests etc. to the above address. If you use the Reply function, please do _not_ echo an entire issue of Spectrum with your message. -------------------------------------------------- Publisher's note: We are now accepting limited advertising. If you'd like to offer your company's products or services to Spectrum's elite audience of Internet and multimedia professionals, send an email query to mailto:duberman@dnai.com, or telephone 510-549-2894 during West Coast business hours. - David Duberman -------------------------------------------------- ©Copyright 1998 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.